The President gave the following report to the Annual General Meeting on 5 June 2013:
Coming to the close of this academic year, and looking forward to the next, I have the honour of expressing thanks on behalf of our members to all those who have actively participated locally. Particular thanks are due to a diverse range of individuals who have worked tirelessly on behalf of the local association. These include
- case workers who help members resolve workplace problems;
- Departmental Representatives and local contacts who serve as a point of contact in their work areas;
- members who represent the local association in negotiations with management on issues ranging from pay grading to weekend working, equal pay to research excellence;
- members of the Executive Committee, who oversee the activity of the local association and set priorities for it; and
- our dedicated Organiser and Administrator who ties it all together in between running open meetings, recruitment activities, communications, etc.
Time does not allow me to review all of the activity from the last year, but it may be helpful to remember at least a few of our achievements.
- Our team of case workers have supported many colleagues with workplace problems. Case workers are paid employees of the University and members of UCU. They are trained volunteers who receive paid time off work to advise and support other members on workplace issues. We have two or three requests from members every week for casework support, and this is probably the single most important activity for the local association. Anyone who would like to help colleagues resolve workplace problems should contact Kim Deslandes <firstname.lastname@example.org> to get involved.
- We produced guidance for members on the Research Excellence Framework, and called attention to several Heads of Schools whose threatening statements to staff were inconsistent with the University’s Code of Conduct on REF.
- We got management to face up to the reality of weekend working for many staff, and work has started on a framework for managing it properly when it is necessary, and compensating for it in a fair and transparent way.
- We obtained for the first time central funding from the University for time off for union activity, so that local management does not see union work as a drain on their limited budget.
There is still much to do, and a number of important issues are on the agenda today for further discussion. Recruitment is one of those issues, and I would just like to say at this point that many of our colleagues who should be members do not even know what UCU is. We all have a role to play in changing that. I would ask every member to consider what could be done to raise awareness of UCU in their local area of work, whether that involves personal conversations with colleagues, posters provided or put up by the branch Organizer, open meetings run by UCU officers, or whatever. We aim to represent academic and other professional staff in a university that values its people and treats them accordingly. Please do what you can to let colleagues know what we are about, and let us know how we can help.
Before finishing, I would like to touch on the topic of institutional goals. Some people put a lot of stock in university league tables, as if winning the competition had some intrinsic merit. It does not. Higher education is a vocation. Cardiff University staff should be proud of what they do, and their contribution to advancing knowledge and educating students. Lets keep our eyes on real achievements, and let the league tables take care of themselves.
President, Cardiff UCU